There is one thing that the new incinerator at Weston Point, Runcorn shares with the two incinerators planned for Northwich and Middlewich and that is they all argued from the same scientific standpoint during the planning and inquiry phases. The standpoint they took was that when it comes to emissions, the current regulatory standards imposed by the Environment Agency (EA) of filtering out particulate matter from the smokestack down to PM10, was sufficient to protect Public Health.
During the Public Inquiries at both Middlewich and Northwich, CHAIN and other objecting parties argued that whilst these limits were currently deemed acceptable by the EA, there was increasing scientific evidence to suggest that these levels were inadequate. The latest research at the time (2009/10) was that much smaller particulate matter, down to PM2.5 was harmful to health and that nanoparticulate matter down to PM0.1, which is ingested straight into the bloodstream was also dangerous over time.
Of course all such objections were deemed irrelevant because the Government and EA standpoint on this was that having ruled many years earlier that filtering down to PM10 took out the majority of the harmful material, the limits were still acceptable.
So it comes as no surprise to CHAIN this week to see America once again taking the lead on this subject and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcing that it will be tightening up the ‘soot’ standard to protect the public and save lives. The article in the Washington Post is quoted as saying
“Particles measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, also known as fine particles or soot, are possibly the most deadly widespread air pollutant. Measuring one-thirtieth the width of a human hair, these particles come from activities ranging from wood burning to vehicle emissions and can cause respiratory and heart ailments by entering the lungs and bloodstream.
Whilst this is a welcome move in America, and a sign that the UK will probably accept the science behind this move and do something similar in the future, it is too late to save the residents of Weston Point from 30 years of polluted output. It is NOT however too late to save the residents of Northwich and Middlewich from the same fate. Whilst the public Inquiries still hang in the balance it is not too late to lobby your local MP and arm them with this new information. Only last week Fiona Bruce (Middlewich) stood up in the House of Commons and asked a question during Prime Ministers Question time.
Every week sees new evidence to further prove that incineration is harmful to human health with profound long term harm being caused to local communities. With far better and greener alternatives to incineration currently available it beggars belief that these proposals are still on the table. Surely we owe it to ourselves and to future generations to heed the scientists and stop these monstrous incinerators now?